Everyday Mom's Meals

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Slow Down Summer

How exactly is it July already? It's ironic how ssssllllooowww March and April crawled along while we were all in lockdown, and even the beginning of May as things were starting to reopen (at least here in Indiana), but as soon as Memorial Day and then June came along, someone hit turbo speed on time.

Summer is flying by, and I for one, am not happy. I go through this every single year. I wait and hold my breath for these sunny, hot days and then before I can blink, I am flipping pages on the calendar as fast as fan blades.

We still have plenty of fun to look forward to this summer, but as I type this stores are setting out school supplies...actually I first saw those in the stores over 2 weeks ago. All of us are trying to figure out what the school year will look like this year, and it's bringing a lot of apprehension and anxiety.

I will be honest, I am so thankful Max isn't old enough for school yet, because I can't imagine having to send him off for the first time, in the current atmosphere. We have decided to homeschool another year of preschool before even considering sending him to a brick and mortar program (he won't go to Kindergarten until he is 6) and I am so thankful he will be home with me. It is hard enough convincing the sophomore that wearing a mask all day and practicing social distancing in high school is going to feel "normal". It's isn't. There is no way around that, and we all just have to be an encouraging as possible to our kids and all the teachers and staff who are trying their hardest to come up with a plan that allows for everyone to return to the classroom.

So much unknown in the world right now. It seems like every morning I get up to read the news and think to myself "Okay, let's see what has happened now." But I also see the ways in which this crazy time has brought people together in new ways. Case in point...our city created a to-go restaurant Facebook page back when carry out was the only thing possible, to share and promote local restaurants who needed as much support as possible to survive. And even now that dine-in is an option again, there are thousands of followers on this page who share the places they love, places that could use some more business and most of all, some amazing food. This brings me to my point...

With so much division in the country right now, about so many things, I find over and over food is one thing that can bring us all together again. Other things too of course, but I live in a foodie world, so I notice this one a lot. People sharing more recipes, cooking at home more, trying new things, supporting local establishments, being more appreciative of food industry workers, etc. We are all finding ways to celebrate food once again, and I am here for all of it!

This recipe is my latest contribution to the foodie craze, a tasty pasta bake that is comfort food on a plate and perfect for your hungry crowd. I hope you are still able to find joy in these trying times, and maybe something yummy to eat can help that.

Rigatoni Pasta Bake
1 lb. rigatoni, cooked to al dente
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 (26 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce with meat
1 (14 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided use
2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese, divided use
Salt and Pepper
Dried Parsley

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. In a large skillet brown beef with onion until no longer pink. Drain if necessary. Add spaghetti sauce, tomatoes with juice, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. When pasta is cooked, drain well. Add to sauce mixture. Stir to combine. Add 1/2 beef mixture to baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1 TBS Parmesan. Add rest of meat mixture. Top with rest of cheese and sprinkle with some dried parsley. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to sit 10 minutes before serving. 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

July 4th Celebrations

There is no doubt our Independence Day celebrations will look a little different this year. Huge gatherings at the beach, tons of people gathered to watch fireworks, pools filled to the brim with kids splashing...none of these are the smartest ideas right now. BUT just because our holiday has to be adapted doesn't mean it still can't be fun, festive and delicious!

Our July 4th tradition is definitely one of adaptation this year. See, we are usually on our two week beach vacay for the holiday. We spend the day at the pool, the beach (which is always wall to wall people) and then grill out. For the past several years, that has meant a huge grilled seafood bash! We are talking shrimp, lobster, oysters...some delicious sides....my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

It actually makes me laugh thinking about it because it never fails, when Adam goes to use the grill at the clubhouse for the condo complex, there is someone beside him grilling up burgers and dogs, nothing says July 4th more. Then they look over at Adam's spread and say "Wow. Yeah, can we come eat with you?"

Well, this year, the beach vacation isn't happening, and for the first time since I was pregnant with Max (and for years before that) we will be home for the holiday. However, the seafood bash will continue! I'm already planing the menu, and this year my parents will get to join us, so that's extra fun!

So, are you asking yourself what you can do on the 4th to make sure it feels as normal as possible? You can still have a cookout, even if it's just your family, or maybe just a few extra guests. Pack up the picnic basket and head to a local park to social distance with some yummy food, maybe a frisbee and some sparklers. There are many ways we can still celebrate this great nation of ours, with those we love most, without being in huge groups.

This pasta salad would be perfect for that small cookout, or packed in that picnic basket (or picnic cooler in this case) or to eat on the deck while the kids play in the pool. Or, if you can't wait for the holiday weekend, it's a terrific light supper on a hot day, or lunch all week long!

This is truly an entire meal in one bowl. Pasta, veggies, meat, cheese...it is filled to the brim with goodness and flavor!

However you are planning on celebrating July 4th this year, I hope you find a way to make it special, delicious and maybe even start some new traditions!

Happy Birthday America!!

Italian Pasta Salad
1 lb. spaghetti, cooked to al dente
2 heaping cups fresh spinach
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 (5 oz.) jar green olives, drained
1 (2 oz.) can sliced black olives
7 oz. tub sliced hard salami, chopped 
8 oz. block mozzarella cheese, diced
1 (16 oz) jar zesty Italian salad dressing
2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. red pepper flake
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

While pasta cooks, in a medium bowl whisk together dressing, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, red pepper flake, salt and pepper. When pasta is cooked, drain well and allow to sit in colander until steam disappears. Place in a large bowl and pour dressing over. Mix well. Add all other ingredients, except mozzarella cheese. Mix well. Chill for at least 60 minutes. Add cheese. Chill until serving. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Monday, June 22, 2020

Just For Daddy

I hope everyone had a great Father's Day celebrating with all the special guys in your life! I am blessed to be the little girl of an amazing daddy; and wife to the best I could have asked for to our boys.

I have to share a secret with you. This week's new recipes was actually a dessert on Easter. Then it went into my draft folder and I forgot about it. Oops. When I stumbled upon it a couple weeks ago, I was so annoyed with myself, but then remembered that Father's Day would be the perfect occasion to share it because it is hands down my daddy's favorite dessert I make him.  In fact, this pie wasn't our Easter meal dessert, but one I made for dad as a treat since we couldn't be together on the holiday thanks to lock down. Pie porch pick up it was!

I've made a few different versions of this pie over the years, and this by far is the easiest and my favorite. Filled with coconut flavor, and perfect to make the day before as well. Oh, and it can also be made into a mini version using those mini pie shells you can find in the baking aisle. I know because that is what I made for our Father's Day dessert! Since we wanted to eat on the deck and my uncle was joining us, I figured a mini version would be more outside friendly. And they were SO cute!

Let's talk toasted coconut. First off, start it in a cold pan. Second, don't let the heat get above low. Third, do NOT take your eye off it for a second. Seriously. It can go from white to black in about 5 seconds. So toast it slow, stirring often and you will be fine. And before you ask "Do I really need to toast it?" My answer is always yes. There is a huge difference in flavor between out of the bag and toasted. It truly makes the difference in this pie.

However you spent Father's Day, I hope you got to hug that special man in your life and tell him how much you appreciate everything he does for you every single day!

Easy Coconut Cream Pie
1 (9 oz.) graham cracker pie shell
2 (3.4 oz.) boxes instant coconut cream pudding
3 1/2 c. milk
3 cups shredded sweetened coconut, divided use
1 (8 oz. ) tub Cool Whip

In a large bowl whisk together milk and pudding mixes until smooth (there will be some tiny chunks from the coconut) Chill for 5-10 minutes until soft set. While pudding chills, heat 1 1/2 cups coconut in a skillet on low heat. Stirring constantly, toast until golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside. When pudding is set, add remaining coconut and mix well. Pour into pit shell. Chill for 2 hours to set. Top with Cool Whip and toasted coconut. Chill until serving.*NOTE* If you want to make the mini version, follow recipe except use 2 (6 count) packages mini graham cracker pie shells, found in the baking aisle.

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Get Ready For Those Summer Gardens

You know that feeling when you see a recipe for the first time and you know you have to make it? That's exactly how I felt when I discovered this simple salad thanks to my buddy Stacey over at Southern Bite. (If you don't follow him already, go now! He's always cooking something yummy and is just about the nicest guy ever!)

Here is where the story takes a tragic turn though. It was literally a year or more before I actually got around to making it. I have no excuses. Life happens. Well, I will say the couple times I did think of it, tomatoes at the grocery store looked under ripe and underwhelming, but beyond that, it was my pure brain fart.

I am so thankful I finally made it! The oldest boy and I enjoyed it for. lunch one day and we were licking the bowl! I knew I would love it, after all a tomato sandwich with mayo is one of my favorite things ever, but I was actually surprised just how much he loved it. He likes mayo, but in small quantities, so I was worried this might be too much for him. But nope. He ate every bite on his plate and then finished mine too!

If you think it sounds like a weird combo, put those thoughts out of your mind completely. And don't worry about mushy crackers. This is a make and serve immediately type of dish, so they are as crunchy as you would hope.

I think it would be so yummy for a backyard barbecue, just remember you can't make it ahead. So if you want to take it to one, take everything separate, chopped tomatoes, broke crackers, mayo and seasonings. Then assemble right before it's time to eat!

Summer time tomatoes are one of the many reasons we love this time of year. And now I've got another delicious way to make sure we use them all up, before they disappear on us again!

Tomato & Cracker Salad
4 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 sleeve saltine crackers, broken
3/4 c. mayo
Salt and Pepper

In a medium bowl mix tomatoes with mayo. Gently fold in broken crackers. Season with a pinch of salt and lots of black pepper. Serve immediately. *NOTES* You want to seed the tomatoes to cut down on moisture. Break your crackers, but don't crush them. The more the black pepper, the better! 

Inspired by Southern Bite

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Noodle Lovers

If you are a chicken lover. If you are a noodle/pasta lover. If you are a simple meal lover. Any or all of these are reasons why you are going to be so happy you logged on for this week's new recipe.

Well, new to me anyway. When I showed a preview pic of this on my personal and blog Facebook pages, I was kind of surprised how many people said "Oh I love Chicken Lazone!" I guess I've been living under a rock because I've only come to know about it the last year or so. And ever since I first saw a picture of it, I knew I had to try it! Chicken. Pasta. Cream sauce. Three of my favorite things in the world all on one plate!

So, if this isn't new for you, I'm sorry you won't be as excited as me. But OH. MY. GOSH. This is good. Like, I want to make it, eat it, make sure there are leftovers so I can eat it a few more times!

The chicken is seasoned to perfection, with just a little kick! And the sauce over the top of it and the noodles just brings it all together for dinner perfection.

This is a great meal at the end of the day when you need something delicious and filling, but not need a lot of hassle. (In fact, if you half this recipe, it will be even easier, since I had to cook my chicken in batches.) I think this would also be great to make on the weekend and simply use all week for packed lunches. I can tell you Mr. E and I both thought it heated up really well.

A complete stove top meal can be your BFF in the hot summer months. One that tastes this good will make you want to make it over, and over, and over...

Chicken Lazone
2 lbs. fresh chicken tenderloins
2 c. heavy cream
1.5 lbs. vermicelli pasta, cooked and drained well
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. pepper
8 TBS butter, divided use
 Dried Parsley

About 20 minutes before cooking, place chicken on a large platter and allow to come to room temp. In a small bowl combine garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Reserve 2 tsp seasoning mix. Sprinkle on both sides of chicken. Melt 3 TBS butter on medium heat in a large skillet. Brown half of the tenders in skillet. Add 1 TBS butter to skillet before flipping to other side. Cook chicken about 4 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat process with other half of chicken. In same skillet, add 2 cups heavy cream and remaining seasoning. Cook over medium heat until simmering. Continues cooking, stirring often, for 10-15 minutes until thickened. Serve chicken over pasta with sauce poured over, and sprinkled with dried parsley. 

Inspired by Plain Chicken

Shared at Weekend Potluck